One of the most surefire comedies of the past 30 years, Greater Tuna has become almost an industry. Greater Tuna and its several sequels have been staged so many times around the country that one might be forgiven for wondering whether the fictional small town of Tuna, Texas, really exists. Greater Tuna opened Thursday at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove.
The Sunset cast consists of two male actors, who portray nearly the entire town of Tuna, the “third smallest city” in the Lone Star state. They take on the challenge of playing more than 20 characters, and their quick costume changes are part of the fun. In the current cast, Jim Donaldson and Aaron Klein do a terrific job of bringing these redneck characters to life. Donaldson does a particularly impressive job as Pearl Burras, the grumpy old lady who takes an unlikely delight in killing the town’s stray dogs. Klein shines as well, especially as the simple-minded, softhearted Petey Fisk. He is a oneman animal humane society who has more than two dozen permanent pets of his own. In one scene that brings Pearl and
Petey together, Petey is at home, writing a letter that implores Pearl to leave the neighbor dogs alone. Simultaneously, Pearl finds herself in a pickle when she unintentionally poisons her husband’s prized hunting dog. She immediately phones her nephew, the town’s juvenile delinquent, to help her out of a jam. Their “solution” to the dilemma—sick as it may be—is one of the funniest skits in the show. Bryce Lord directs the production.
Greater Tuna and its sequels are written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. At least two area theater companies, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, previously have staged productions of these goofy comedies. But Tuna is the kind of town you don’t mind visiting again and again. Sunset Playhouse gives theatergoers a chance to revisit this wacky town through March 11 at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. For ticket reservations, call 262-782-4430.